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CDD’s Election Analysis Centre urges INEC to sort out pending issues before Saturday

AHEAD of the presidential and parliamentary elections on Saturday, the Election Analysis Centre (EAC) of the Centre of Democracy and Development (CDD) today implored the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to address any pending logistical issues so that voting would happen without further delays.

The EAC raised concerns about political violence, insecurity, disinformation, missing or misplaced election materials, welfare and security of ad-hoc election staff, and pointed out that leaving any of these issues unresolved could likely affect the smooth conduct of Saturday’s elections.

“The postponement of the elections last week really affected a lot of people, particularly businesses and some voters who travelled hundreds of kilometre or even more to return to their polling units to vote,” the EAC said in a briefing in Abuja on Thursday.

“The speculation that the election will be rigged has created two scenarios amongst the people, a feeling of despondency and that votes will not count in some people and in others in some parts of the country a strong reason to vote and defend their votes.”

The EAC charged INEC to address the status of the last week payment for ad-hoc staff to avoid staff shortage and to ensure that all the missing or misplaced materials are rerouted to avoid shortfalls.

It noted that reassurances on radio and television stations by INEC Resident Electoral Commissioners are not evenly spread across the country, adding that it is simply not enough to increase people’s confidence in the system.

“NEC and all relevant stakeholders must engage in voter mobilization to stave off apathy and the commission must increase its confidence-building measures particularly at the state levels,” the EAC stated.

Citing reports from its observers as well as researchers who conducted field group discussions, the analysis centre said it finds reports of Boko Haram attacks in Yobe state and Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, troubling.

In addition, the centre maintained that ongoing armed banditry in Zamfara and reports of kidnappings in Shiroro and Raffi LGAs of Niger state could affect deployment of officials for both observer groups and INEC.

“It is important and necessary to review security plans for volatile states such as Borno, Yobe, Adamawa and Zamfara states,” it said, but warned that while it matters to provide security during elections, “it equally behoves the authorities responsible are careful and do not unduly deploy excessive security during polls that might frighten votes and depress voting numbers.”

The EAC, which was set up on February 11 to become a one-stop shop for rigorous analysis and countering fake news during the election, advised the police to desist from further re-deploying their personnel as this might send the wrong signals with voting just a few days away.

“In spite of these issues, our assessment based on Prof. Yakubu’s briefings as well as verified information from thousands of our observers on the field, we believe that the Electoral Commission is ready for Saturday’s vote,” it said.

“Nonetheless, there is a great deal of work to be done, including ensuring that issues concerning every aspect of logistics as well as the movement of materials and personnel from local government areas towards are completed without any further delays.

“We call on INEC  to demonstrate to Nigerians and the world that it is indeed ready to conduct free, fair and credible elections on 23rd February 2019 for the Presidential and National Assembly Elections and 9th March 2019 for the Gubernatorial and House of Assembly elections.”

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